(Isaiah 66:11, Douay Rheims)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Saluting the brave pilgrims...the people from various faiths...standing as ONE...in solidarity...for a better Malaysia...in their quest for freedom...
May God Continue to Walk With You All the Way!
Also dedicated to pilgrims everywhere...united in solidarity...struggling for freedom, peace and dignity!
Wishing everyone a meaningful Bible Sunday tomorrow...as we remember who we are and continue learning to become disciples, getting into the Word...deep into our hearts...and ultimately bringing the Word...out into the World...
"So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 66:11, Douay Rheims)
(Isaiah 66:11, Douay Rheims)
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31, Douay Rheims)
Pilgrims in Malaysia have just shared that the entire pro-government-editor-controlled mainstream media in Malaysia is expected to carry shocking and bold headlines (lies!) reporting that the BERSIH rally today was a disaster...failing to muster any support from the people (6,000 a local daily claim)...numbers and stories will again be twisted in favor of the fearful ruling government!
What else is shocking in Malaysia...well, certainly not “truly Asia”, as the government tourism brochure will claim...BUT a land where the poor people are simply held as slaves to injustice, conspiracies, fabrication, blatant denials, un-clean electoral system, suppression of religious freedom, other evil you can think of...just to stay in power.
Well, according to our pilgrim friends in Malaysia, the “exodus” has begun...as the people “slaves” take their first brave steps out of “Egypt”...
The “seemingly deaf, dumb and blind, un-mandated” leader of the Government of Malaysia was earlier today forced to cancel his “get-away” from the country and was utterly disgraced when, as reported by alternative internet media sites, thousands (Foreign News Agency Al Jazeera claims 20,000) of brave and disciplined civilians, of various ethnic and religious background, turned up, in solidarity, in pouring rain from the heavens, on July 9, 2011 for the BERSIH rally to push for free, clean and fair elections.
These people turned up because they carried hope...they believed. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, must surely be weeping for Malaysia...even if there was just one “sheep” who dare stand up for what is evil.
BERSIH is an umbrella group representing 62 Non Government Organizations, led by one of the eight women worldwide to receive the US Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage in 2009. Thumbs up to her for being an obedient instrument of God!
As a woman was instrumental in bringing Jesus Christ into the world and similarly, many great prophets in the Bible...many women today continue to speak up and lead reforms throughout the world for the sake of freedom, equality, justice...ultimately, for life!
The 709 (July 9) March was peacefully aimed at pushing for a “cleansing of the electoral filth in the nation”, but the police, instruments of the powers that be, were deliberate and aggressive...tear gas and chemical-laced water cannons were used extensively to prevent the peaceful walk for fair and clean elections!
Similar BERSIH rallies conducted by Malaysians in many countries all over the world, amongst them in Seoul, South Korea, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Australia, Osaka, Japan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Singapore, London, Paris, Switzerland, Taipei, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Ottawa, Canada, went on peacefully, some even congratulated, by the foreign police, for having organized such a peaceful demonstration!
In Malaysia, following pre-rally threats, road blocks and forced city lockdown, the supposedly guardians of the nation- the police, were busy ruthlessly baton-charging, firing tear gas and chemical-laden water cannons all over the city...including, believe it or not, into a Maternity Home...worst of all, amidst the scuffles, causing the death of a civilian!!
Reports indicated that the police have been relentless and oppressive in their efforts to bring down the marchers by sheer force, who are mostly civilians, even to the extent of locking up the public toilets in the city!
During the week before this historic day, the Government of Malaysia seems to have been badly infected with “xanthophobia” (the fear of the color yellow – BERSIH T-shirts)...resulting in the police crackdown on any persons wearing yellow...inciting hatred against the ruling party, they claimed... It would seem that Malaysia requires police reforms as well...something that is only possible when the government changes hands...through clean and fair elections!
Nevertheless, the memorandum pleading for free, clean and fair elections in Malaysia was not presented to the King at the palace, because many of the pro-BERSIH leaders and social activists were intentionally arrested, including the youngest daughter of an Opposition leader; altogether, more than 1,600 people; men, women, boys and girls!
God is great, His protection was over the people who dared to walk for justice...today, the 709 Rally was a great success as it has awaken the people and raised their political awareness of the need for immediate electoral reforms...more than that, the people were able to witness the shameful display of raw power and “big bully dirty tactics” by the fearful “over-staying” government in their corrupt high handedness to suppress such reforms.
Today, begins a new dawn for Malaysia as the courageous citizens and fellow pilgrims rise, with God to defeat evil, corruption and injustice across the land...restoring the world that God has intended for all His children to live in, that we may love Him even more.
We continue to pray fervently for the pilgrims and the people of Malaysia as they await their new dawn...that God, the merciful, will always protect them and bring about justice, repentance and peace.
As we reflect through this experience of our fellow pilgrims in Malaysia and meditating on the Word of God this coming Bible Sunday, we should come to the realization that each of our journeys is different...each is unique...we need companions...most importantly, we need God...we need to listen to His Word...to know Him...
Thursday, July 7, 2011
“My beloved friends, with an upright, magnanimous heart that is also compassionate, you can transform this continent, freeing the people from the whip of greed, violence disorder and guiding it through the path of those principles that are indispensible to any modern democracy. Those principles…include respect, transparent governance, freedom of the press, health care and adequate schooling as well as the promotion of human rights. Never be silent in the face of corruption and abuses of power.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Tour of Africa, 2009
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the head of the Roman Catholic Christian Church. In the words of His Holiness, Christianity is “…the truth that resonates with the law written on the human heart.”
Pope in Latin and Greek means papa or Father. The Pope is the direct successor of St Peter; in that he is head of the bishops as St Peter was head of the apostles. The Pope is the father leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics; translating to slightly more than 17% of the world’s population of approximately 7 billion. However, as more appropriately termed by St Augustine, the Pope is the Servant of the Servants of God.
“Benedict” translates to “The Blessed: in Latin. The name was chosen probably to depict the Holy Father's mission in pursuit of reconciliation, peace and harmony in a turbulent, warring and chaotic world…to echo the reassuring voice of Jesus Christ, to build bridges and remind the citizens of the world to put Christ, first in our lives, in all our thoughts and deeds…to open the hearts of the world to this intimate friendship with God.
“Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God's creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), 2009
The Pope’s role is especially important especially when His Holiness receives powerful and influential political audience from around the world; many of the latter merely looking for ‘headlines’ or even the ‘implicit endorsement from the Holy Father”, the Vatican is that much aware.
The Pope's number two, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has this much to add, “The Church invites everyone - above all those who hold public responsibility in any administrative, political and judicial area - to be committed to a more robust morality, a sense of justice and lawfulness…(as) the Vatican was worried about the effects that reports of such behavior was having on families, young people and future generations.”
Such commitment to justice, morality, lawfulness, freedom of religious worship and notably free and clean elections seems to be greatly lacking in many countries today. Un-mandated “leaders” (not fairly elected by the people) stained with the crimes of corruption, injustice, lawlessness, murder, conspiracy and character assassination continues to hang on to power. The cries of the people for freedom, transparency, justice and fair rule of power have been suppressed by threats from the powers that be.
By the grace of God, it is these visits from these political “leaders” that His Holiness must aim to touch and evangelize, bringing healing, repentance and conversion.
In the apostolic letter “Ecclesia in Asia”, the Pope said, “…by 'speaking the truth in love' you can help your fellow citizens to distinguish the wheat of the Gospel from the chaff of materialism and relativism. …While resisting the ‘dictatorship of positivist reason’ that tries to exclude God from public discourse, we should…stress on human rights and the freedom of religion and its practice.”
Following my previous blogs with regards to the endless cries from the fellow pilgrims in Malaysia, South East Asia, for free, fair and clean elections…justice, an end to corruption, there is talk in the international media that the, non-people-elected, scandalized ‘Prime Minister of ‘Muslim-majority’ Malaysia’ will be meeting the Holy Father on July 18, 2011
Apparently, this meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia will not take place at the Vatican, where the Holy Father usually has his audiences, but has been tentatively scheduled at the Papal summer Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, 25km from the Vatican - a holy place where the Holy Spirit moves...where many encyclicals have been written.
In this case, it seems quite unusual for the Holy Father on retreat to even entertain any private or special audiences, what more for a self-professed leader such as this. Well, God works in mysterious ways...perhaps the Holy Father, an instrument of God, sees great urgency to radiate the healing and penetrating Light of Christ upon certain people....perhaps the Lord have heard the cries of the people of Malaysia for justice...
This ‘perceived election ploy’ meeting with the direct successor of St Peter comes following peaking tensions between Malaysian Muslims and religious minorities over complaints of religious discrimination and subtle religious persecution. Malaysia is one of about 16 or 17 countries together with China, Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Vietnam — that currently have absolutely no diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
The Pope has previously preached at a mosque in Jordan that, “Religion can be corrupted...when pressed into the service of ignorance or prejudice, contempt, violence and abuse. ...Often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division and at times even violence in society.”
To the Christians in Malaysia, one of Pope Benedict XVI’s message echoes very clearly, “Do not become disheartened, but continue to proclaim with conviction the 'unsearchable riches of Christ,' so that all may come to hear of the love of God made manifest in Jesus.”
“Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good” (Romans 12:9, Douay Rheims).
We continue to pray fervently , by the grace of God and the intercession of Blessed Mother Mary and all the heavenly saints, that the Holy Father’s continued encounters with political ‘un-holies’ from around this chaotic secular world will continue to bring about inner-awareness, self-repentance, conversion and transformation…so that there will be change and reformation...bringing back justice, freedom, integrity, inter-religious dialogue, peace, dignity and harmony across the land. May these political “un-holies” come to personally encounter the miraculous healing presence of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and repent...may the words of the psalmist come true...
“The Lord has eyes for the just
and ears for their cry.
The Lord’s face is against evildoers
to wipe out their memory from the earth.
When the just cry out, the Lord hears
and rescues them from all distress.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
saves those whose spirit is crushed.
Many are the troubles of the just,
but the Lord delivers from them all.
God watches over all their bones;
not even one shall be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked;
those who hate the just are condemned.”
(Psalm 34:16-22, NAB)
Monday, July 4, 2011
“At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”” (Matthew 11:25, NAB)
Slightly more than 13 months ago, I made a huge decision to un-trap myself from the corporate world. I wanted to find more time...more space for myself, my family, God…to do stuff that gives deeper meaning to life and make this world a little better. It was a brave step on my part and it took a lot of prayers, listening and discerning with the Lord for me to arrive at the decision…not to mention, a lot of support from my family.
Throughout my life, I have always held on to the belief in the value of each person, no matter what their abilities, “different”-abilities, culture, race or religion. Under the one God of Love, we are all called to grow in love, wisdom and acceptance of others…growing together in solidarity…trying to live the message of Jesus Christ.
However, my life in the corporate world was often blurred by management “concepts”, technicalities or principles, influenced by supposedly, what most people would term as, management ‘gurus’ (fad of the season, more like it).
The common element of all these “flavors of the month” is seemingly to become more productive, effective and efficient…and “profitable”…at the expense of “others”…our neighbors. The corporate world today often "crucify" Jesus over and over again, in the name of profits!
Worst of all, if one has an immediate superior who daily feeds on finding fault in others…creating unnecessary “pressure” and encouraging values which are inconsistent with our spiritual being. Our life then, becomes so much more stressful! Yes, the heartless corporate world has its ways of tempting, seducing and luring Christians in high positions to become un-christian in so many different ways.
I believe that if a job and the people you work with are unable to bring out the best in a person, then that job is not worth hanging on to. Life is simply too short to be held to ransom by some corporate hypocrites! How can one wake up each day to do something which is in direct conflict with the values preached by Jesus? What then will become of the meaning and purpose of our journey through life?? When it comes to following Jesus, there is simply no compromise with the ways of the world.
The corporate world forces upon us to group people into various categories – talented and not-so-talented, specialists or managers, promotable or not promotable…entitled to bonus or vice versa…CEOs and the non-C-class ranks or simply plain employees with just an identification reference. Who are we, mere mortals, to disrupt God’s equilibrium of His beautiful created human race?
These words of St Paul to the Corinthians ring true for me throughout my tenure in the corporate world.
“Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28, NAB)
Back in employment then, it became quite challenging for me to balance the cries of the Spirit within, against the corrupt and emotionless “rat-race” environment of the corporate world. On the one hand, the Church is teaching me to be attentive to the weak and the vulnerable, those in whom Jesus Christ rejoices because they see what has been hidden to the clever and capable. On the other hand, a whole load of corporate jargon and rules. What a contradiction!
The noises of the corporate world distracted me so much so that it did not help me become a better human being, a better child of my parents, a better parent, a better spouse…most importantly, a better disciple of Jesus Christ. Whilst I wished I was “empty” before my God, it was filled to the brim with assignments, projects, initiatives, business trips, deadlines, etc. So often in the corporate world, I find that leadership and discipleship seems to collide.
Why imprison myself in such a cruel corporate environment? This culture seems to bring out the bad or the worst in me. By God’s grace, I came to be aware of how far I was drifting apart from God and, in the process, I have not been listening and responding to Jesus’ call to radical discipleship. Jesus constantly invites all of us (me) into a mysterious path of growth in love and compassion.
The Spirit of the Lord disturbed me so much that I finally found the courage to let go and surrender everything back to God and empty myself once more; try to get my life back in order. Despite many objections from my superiors about me being a talent and the potentially having a “bright” future ahead, I voluntarily put an end to everything. I simply quit and took a sabbatical break. No work, no income…just a time for vacation with the Lord… Looking back, I have absolutely no regrets!
During this past one year, my life, although emotionally and financially, challenging…taxing…lonely...many a times – the direction was clear…live simply, quietly, prayerfully and poorly as Christ did…live with the poor, my neighbors, in order to live with Jesus Christ…this took a lot of courage, believe me!
I have found much growth in my spiritual life…prayer life…becoming more aware and trusting of God’s presence in my life. For me, it was such a fulfilling time…spending it with the Lord and my loved ones...also being able to share my humble thoughts in this simple blog.
Looking back, I see that the mad corporate world, created by mankind, likes to compete…always achieving something at the expense of something else…pleasing someone at the price of someone else…“opportunity” cost, the economists would term it to justify. Clearly, the world just does not understand the message of simplicity, peace and harmony…the very heart of the Gospel message.
It will not surprise me if Jesus weeps over the state of our world today…weeping over individuals, corporations and countries where inequality, divisions, discrimination, exclusions, marginalization, profitability have become so dominant.
Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher and humanitarian, once shared that human beings have turned our world into a place of competition, rivalry, conflict and war between races, religions, social classes and countries. How true! On the flip side, there is simply a lack of sincerity and “heart” in executing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives…all done because “management” wants it.
During my time in employment, much of what I stand for and hold dear…appeared to be very foolish because the Gospel message is truly a message of folly in the corporate world!
“We find it difficult to give life, to hold and carry people in their weakness. We are often frightened of reality because reality can be painful and a source of disappointment. We tend to escape into a world of illusions and to seek refuge in dreams. We bury ourselves in ideas and theories or fill our days with distractions.” – Jean Vanier
God calls us today, as Christians, in the corporate world, to shine forth so that the environment where we are may be transformed into a door of hope for others…each one of us revealing the Word of God to touch someone else’s life in any small way.
“All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:4, 14, NAB)
No person should be made to feel too insignificant, to unimportant or unworthy. In the Bible, we know that God calls everyone…God does not choose only the talented, the rich, the strong, the most influential, the most learned or just the CEO…but rather, the weak, the humble, the most needy, the simple, the quiet…people who recognize and acknowledge their own “poverty” – not just material poverty but their own inability to cope with life…having to depend on a God who loves and cares for them.
I have grown to learn now, in a very intense and experiential manner, that God’s ways are not my ways, God’s choices are not society’s choices…during my time in the corporate world, there have been many times when I have unnecessarily put others down, forcibly changed their course of life, refuse to admit my own weakness, my own poverty…preferring to hide behind my corporate rank… People respect you purely because of the rank on your business card. Beyond that, sad to say, no one genuinely cares enough to want to know.
Now I know even more clearly that we are all members of the one community…the one human race…because God has created and called each one of us. We must not be ashamed or frightened to leave the familiar corporate world…to let go of what we used to know or held on to…to lose everything…to discover the restlessness, loneliness and poverty of our soul…it takes time…but we need to learn to put down roots, attachments, ranks…to give up control…and let God take control.
Throughout my sabbatical break, the Lord has shown and taught me (and is still showing me), in so many ways, how to live…so that my whole life, my whole being becomes a sign of the Good News.
I am humbled to know that when I welcome God’s call, something beautiful happens inside me…daily, there is a “letting go” of attitudes, prejudices, fears, security, the need to be in control, self-importance...to just be a child of God…free from all fears…placing all my trust on Him alone. Because I took that first small simple step, the Lord has completely disturbed my established order of things and replaced it with a radically new order.
I share with you the following simple words...
“People often prefer to keep Jesus in the churches and places of worship, where they can go and see him from time to time, when they feel like it or when they feel the need. But to have Jesus in their home – which is also the home of their hearts – that is harder to accept! When we welcome Jesus into our “home”, he transforms us and he transforms our way of living.” – Jean Vanier
Depending on what the Lord has planned for me next…whether He wants me to remain as I am or He calls me back to the corporate world or something radically different…one thing remains certain…I will not walk the journey in the same “worldly” manner…I will take courage to always be God’s foolish but obedient instrument of peace…become a passionate sign of the Good News…becoming an open door of hope to others.
Come what may, I remain God’s humble imperfect servant, always at His disposal…Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.